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Tuesday 23 Jan 2018

Pedestrian and Street Crossing Safety


Article by Abby Twyman, M.Ed., BCBA

When I completed my student teaching during my master’s program I spent 5 months in a pre-vocational program for individuals with moderate to severe developmental delays. Every afternoon the students took the city bus to their job-sites with their job coaches initially and then independently as they became more experienced. To get to the bus stop and to their job-sites, the students had to cross multiple controlled and uncontrolled intersections. During the first few days of my internship one thing became clear to me: many of the students were dependent on their job coach to cross the street!

These were 14-17 year old students who were preparing for independent living and if an adult was not close to them when crossing the street they would engage in dangerous pedestrian behavior including crossing the street without stopping or looking and walking in the street. It became a goal of mine to teach these students how to cross the street independently.

The first thing I had to consider was that crossing the street can be dangerous and 100% accuracy is required. Given this necessity for perfection, it was important to practice more than the two or three times they would usually use the skill on a daily basis. I knew that the instruction would need to be multi-modal and include a lot of practice so I decided to implement the following program:

  1. Written story – description of how to cross street safely and the importance of street safety
  2. Video modeling – video of instructors crossing the street the right way and the wrong way
  3. Role-play – set up mock controlled and uncontrolled intersections in the gym to practice skills
  4. Live simulation – practice crossing street on school grounds with cars driven by staff
  5. Real-life practice – using skills in natural environment to and from job site

This program was very effective for all students. Some student needed more practice than others, but each student learned how to cross the street and walk on the sidewalk safely. Parents and teachers sometimes fail to realize how dependent individuals are on cues from the adult when crossing the street and walking on the sidewalk. Being able to demonstrate these skills independently is essential because it could mean the difference between staying safe and sustaining injury.

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